Book Review – The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine by Alex Brunkhorst

One of the things I love the most about working as a bookseller is that we are invited to events by publishers. I picked up a bound proof of this book at the HarperCollins Big Book Tour at the end of June. It is due to be published in the UK in October 2015.

This novel is written by Alex Brunkhorst, an L.A. high end real estate broker, and she truly gives us an insight into the luxurious world of the Los Angeles rich.

The story focusses on Thomas, a somewhat maladroit reporter from Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Yeah, I don’t know where that is either) who after studying at Harvard lands his dream job at the Wall Street Journal. Some suspected plagiarism (cause of death for a journalist!) gets him fired and he ends up working for the Los Angeles Times on inconsequential stories.

One day, his editor sends him off to write the obituary of Joel Goodman, a legendary L.A. film-maker. He goes to his daughter Lily’s antique shop to get the scoop, and she, an eccentric heiress, decides on a whim to let him into her circle.

Thomas is invited to an informal dinner party where he is surrounded by the most famous actress in the world, Carol Patridge and Charles, her subservient husband, record label owner George Bloom and Emma, his extravagant wife. One of the key characters of the night is David Duplaine, an aloof media mogul who was once Joel Goodman’s protégé.

The evening goes well for Thomas, and the glitzy group decides to take him under their wing and introduce him to the upper echelons of L.A. society. Thomas is soon producing exclusives and is sucked into the glitz and glamour of their gilded world.

One day, he is invited to a party at Duplaine’s mansion. Thomas makes a mistake and goes to his Bel-Air mansion, when the party is actually taking place in Malibu. At Duplaine’s house he encounters his daughter, Matilda. This delicate and beautiful girl has spent all her life within the walls of her father’s estate, encased in luxury. Thomas promptly falls in love with her and decides to investigate her mysterious upbringing. What begins as an alluring romance could be the thing that destroys the lives of everyone around them.

I was immediately gripped by this novel as it has a perfect balance of love and mystery. The descriptions of the heady world of the L.A. rich are perfect. The whole story feels like a quest, and I love the little snippets of journalistic advice that are dotted throughout the book. This novel is not only entertaining but also brings up questions about whether it is better to uncover the truth or to leave a precious bird to live in her gilded cage.

A definite must-read for the autumn!

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